It must be borne in mind at all
times that Hip is not just a language but an attitude -- indeed,
a whole culture unto itself. If some of the definitions in the
dictionary seem inadequate or puzzling to you please remember
that the true hipster has the Taoists aversion to pinning down
the changing world. To define something completely is to embalm
it intellectually. Subtlety of perception is hip -- as when a
jazz musician blows a particularly "wild" chord change
and the hipster voices his appreciation by laughing quietly or
murmuring "Oh, yeah!" But it is hipper to "dig"
the change and forget it to do a post mortem analysis of "just
what happened there, music-wise".
THEORY OF HIP COMMUNICATION:
In the English language, we have
enormous difficulty with definition. There are entire branches
of philosophy and logic devoted to little else but defining terms.
Science had all but abandoned English as being too imprecise,
preferring the language of numbers.
The language of Hip cleverly
sidesteps this problem. Where in English we are concerned with
communicating exactly what we want to convey and nothing else,
the hipster is satisfied if what he says manages to *include*
what he means. Imagine the difference between shooting a dime
at twenty paces with a .22 rifle, and with a 40 gauge shotgun,
and you will have a rough approximation of the difference between
English and Hip.
Hip is a language of thundering
generalities. It is more concerned with intense emotional states
than with specific ideas, and in this respect can be said to
THE HIP VOCABULARY
It is not only difficult, but
almost impossible to ascertain the exact meaning of many Hip
words or expressions out of context. A change in the vocal inflection
can change the meaning of a word to its own opposite. "Bad"
can mean "good," "straight" can mean "twisted,"
etc. Depending on the context, the word "freak" may
mean anything from "dangerous sex pervert" to "someone
who likes ice cream." "The Man" can mean either
the police or the narcotics salesman. It pays to listen carefully.
If, when talking to a hipster, you have no idea what he is telling
you, it is usually safer to say "I'm hip", or "It's
cool" than to ask him what he's talking about.
Since Hip is such an emotional
language, often hipsters will use words with cavalier disregard
for their actual meaning, retaining only their emotional connotation.
In this wise, the late Lord Buckley once described an annoying
fog in Chicago as "an illiterate cruddy amaze on the streets".
IN THEORY AND PRACTICE:
Hipsters are much maligned by
the unknowing public for being "cool". It should be
pointed out, however, that "cool", when used in the
Hip sense, does *not* mean withdrawn, cold, and non-reacting.
Cool refers to an attitude which might best be described as poised
and self possessed, or unruffled. When a hipster "blows
his cool," he loses his poise and succumbs to hysteria,
anger, or the prevailing mood of the moment.
A hipster's "cool"
is often spoken of as a possession -- perhaps a hipster's most
cherished possession. One's "cool" enables one to face
life as it is and to accept graciously what it has to offer.
"Cool" has several subsidiary meanings.
Cool it: Stop it, behave normally, change the
subject, leave. "Cool it" is an urgent warning.
Cool yourself, or cool your brains: Relax, stop "coming
It's cool: It's all right, or okay. "Thats cool with
Be cool: Be careful.
Cool that stud: Get rid of him, shut him up.
Is he cool(?): Does he know whats happening? Will anything
we do upset or shock him? Is he a cop?
"Uncool" refers to
actions which are socially inappropriate, gauche, foolhardy,
or dangerous. The following list may prove useful.
It is uncool to claim you used to room with Bird.
It is uncool to claim you have Bird's axe.
It is even less cool to ask, "Who is Bird?"
It is uncool to nod on the street waiting for the light to change.
It is uncool to let anybody know that your uncle is a registered
It is uncool to buddy with a know fink.
It is uncool to ask, "Where'd you get it?"
It is uncool to let anybody use your place as a forwarding address
for packages from Mexico.
It is uncool to wear shades after sunset -- unless you should
be wearing shades after sunset, in which case it is uncool to
take them off.
It is possible that "cool"
behavior can be carried to an extreme. One who is constantly
preoccupied with remaining "cool" at all times and
with "the cool" of his friends, begins to slip towards
paranoia. The word "Hincty" is occasionally use to
denote this state, but the term "paranoia" (or "paranoid")
has been adopted into the Hip Vocabulary from psychoanalytic
terminolology. When every knock at the door, every footstep in
the hall, every car parked across the street means "Police!",
a hipster's "cool" may have blossomed into paranoia.
Nowhere in the world is there
less political activity or political consciousness than on the
"Hip Scene," with the possible exception of the Laotian
Buddhists. Occasionally a voice will be raised in protest against
police brutality in public parks, or in favor of legislation
aimed at legalizing marijuana, or hospitalization rather than
jail sentences for narcotics addicts, but these sporadic bursts
of activity are rare. Perhaps this stems from the hipster's basic
distrust of authority in any form. Most hipsters believe, for
example, that a person must have serious psychological problems
in order to become a policeman.
It would be absurd to attempt
to organize hipsters into anything resembling a pressure group.
The single instance that comes to mind of political-action-in-concert
will as an example. During the 1960 Republican National Convention
in Chicago, there appeared on the floor of the convention hall
an odd assortment of people carrying signs and placards reading
"Independent Republicans For Stevenson" and "Draft
Stevenson Now". They were summarily ejected. The demonstration
was, of course, a "put on".
Hip, to the external observer,
seems distinctly non-Western in its orientation. This is reflected
in the fascination that Eastern mysticism holds for many hipsters,
and in the fact that many members of Hip society are interested
in Zen Buddhism, Yoga, the teachings of the Bagavad-Gita, Vedanta,
and Islam. The teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky are highly
regarded, as is Subud.
The Hipster, feeling disillusion
with and disenfranchised by materialistic Western culture, supremely
cynical about our accepted institutions and traditional idols,
is forced to turn inward for his answers. "Dig yourself"
is a Hip byword. Perhaps some of the methods are questionable;
i.e. a too-literal interpretation of Rimbaud's dictum, "To
arrive at the unknown through the disordering of all the senses,
that's the point," and perhaps these methods will never
produce great art or a great body of literature. But the Hipster
is not interested. He invests his energy in his life.
The concept of "dues"
may be worth mentioning here. Many hipsters are musicians, and
consequently, dues-paying union members, since a musician cannot
perform professionally unless he is a paid-up member in full
standing. Thus we get such Hip expressions as "That cat
pays his dues" compliment for a good performer, or for someone
who lives up to the responsibilities he has chosen for himself.
The expression had broadened in meaning, however, to the point
that it might be considered as the basis for a Hip Metaphysic.
"Dues" are the sacrifices
that "a cat" makes to live as he wishes to live; "dues"
are the automatic and impersonal punishments that accompany "goofs"
and oversights. One hipster summed it up rather neatly, "Say
you're a bad, evil, rotten stud, man. You go around spreading
badness and rottenness and evil. What do you expect to get back,
man? Everybody treats you like a bad cat. But you don't dig that,
because nobody digs being treated like that, so you get back
at them by treating them like they're a bunch of bad cats for
putting you down, which is what they put you down for in the
first place. You dig where it's at?
The dues for being a bad cat
cat are being a bad cat. That's all, what can I tell you?"
It is possible to become "hung
up" on almost any object by following the instructions below.
We recommend this exercise to serious students of Hip.
Exercise: Choose an object. Any
object but preferably one that is fairly interesting looking,
at least for now. Pretend that your attention (focus on concentration)
is a stream of water. Play this "stream" over the object,
letting it trickle into crannies and recesses, and splash over
flat surfaces. Soon you will begin to discover that the object
is much more interesting than it was before, and previously overlooked,
or taken for granted. If something distracts your attention from
the object of your concentration, don't force your concentration
back to where it was, but investigate the object in relation
to the distraction. Continue this exercise for at least 15 minutes.
No matter how ridiculous or pointless this may sound, after a
few repetitions of this exercise, you should be able to hang
yourself up for hours.
Reach over the back of your head
and feel one of your eyes from above and behind--upside down.
Try to think of something you can't remember.
Tune your television set to an
empty channel and watch the specks. (This is "Channel X".)
Complete this list: Ford Maddox
Ford, Jerome K. Jerome, William Carlos Williams. . . .
Copy this figure:
Try squaring the circle.
Bags -- Milt Jackson
Baby Ray -- Ray Charles
Ball -- Cannonball Adderly
Bird -- Charlie Parker
Diz -- Dizzy Gillespie
Lady Day -- Billie Holiday
Prez -- Lester Young
Trane -- John Coltrane
Ace: One dollar
Deuce: Two dollars
Nickle: Five dollars
Pound: Five dollars
Dime: Ten dollars
Twenty five cents: Twenty five dollars
A bill: One hundred dollars
Bread, geets, grease: money
Geets: Telephone slugs
Coins: A small amount of money, non-specific.
Short line: Not enough money. Up tight. No money.
Time: Any time before four-thirty in the afternoon is
READING AND LISTENING:
Language in Thought and Action: Hiakawa
The White Negro: Mailer
Naked Lunch: Burroughs
Growing Up Absurd: Goodman
The Psychoanalytical Theory of Neurosis: Fenichel
Gestalt Therapy: Goodman, Perl & Hefferline
Square Zen, Beat Zen, & Zen: Watts
Knowing and the Known: Dewey and Bently
Jazz Titans: Reisner
Drugs and the Mind: de Ropp
The Theory of Conscious Evolution: Ocspensky
Euphoria, Vols. 1 & 2: Lord
'Way Out Humor: Lord Buckley
The Wide Weird World of Shorty Petterstein: Jacobs
Word Jazz: Nordine
Take Five with Ronny Graham (Final Band, Harry the Hipster.)
Place the correct word or phrase
in the blank in each of the following sentences:
1. I was busted by the __________________.
(Stash, Fuss, Geets)
2. Marvin is my _________________
buddy. (Tight, Fink, Soul)
3. I need a lift, did you bring
your __________________? (Old lady, reefer, short)
4. I'm up tight, can you lay
some ___________________ on me? (Heat, changes, bread)
5. Get out of here, you're __________________.
(Turning me on, bringing me down, holding)
TRUE OR FALSE:
When your burned, the best thing
to do is call the police.
You will be welcome wherever
you go if you come on strong enough.
Your pad should be cool at all
If you groove in your bag, stick
That's the way it is man, that's
the way it really is.
Translate these sentences into
Hip. When translated, each sentence should be no more than four
1) He heard a car outside, and
he jumped up and down and screamed and knocked over furniture
and made everybody very nervous and then ran down the back stairs
yelling "They're after me!"
2) I don't have any money, and
my wife left for Detroit with the car, and left the kids, and
the rent is due, and I can't afford to hire a baby sitter so
I can go out and look for work, and I don't know what's going
3) He's the kind of guy that
would try to get you arrested if he got mad enough.
4) I'm sorry I'm late, but the
building caught fire and the old lady on the top floor was trapped
in her bathroom, so I helped the firemen break in through the
kitchen window, and we dropped her into a net just before the
wall collapsed, so that's why I wasn't here earlier.
5) What are you telling me a
long story for? I know all about that. I've known about it from
the beginning. Now listen: Here's what really happened...
Parts One and Two, Five points
to each correct answer.
Part Three, Ten points for each
Total possible points: 100
Passing Score: 100
Part One: Fuss, Tight, Short, Bread, Bringing me
Part Two: False, False, True, True, False.
1. He blew his cool.
2. I'm up tight.
3. He's a fink.
4. I got hung up.
5. I'm hip. But dig.